New Media: A critical introduction provides a holistic approach to new media and attempts to convey its message of historical presence in everything ‘new’, as it states that something old was once new as well. Drawing influence from popular culture, political economy, the sciences and philosophy, the book tackles the emergence of new media as a juxtaposition of such factors, surfacing the complexity in dealing with new media.

Media studies thrives on problems, in which we attempt to creatively ‘answer’ and/or bring to light the issues to the masses. It may not necessarily have the solution, as some problems are way too complex to be solved through our current means and may present underlying issues that may have set its foundation. We look towards an ‘upgrade culture’, with the practice of upgrading, the computer becomes a technology in flux, rather than a stable piece or completed technology.
New media exists in different contexts, and its contextual nature means that the definition of new media changes as time passes. As a contemporary society, we survey what lies in the distance and do not simply stay above the tidal wave, but to look beyond it and make appropriate assumptions about the future to build upon our everchanging new media landscape.

New Media and New Technologies:

The characteristics of new media: some defining concepts encourages one to be introspective and take a second look at what new media entails.

Work done by artists and technicians of ‘Factum­—Arte’, a group who use digital technology to reproduce ancient artefacts such as sculptures, monuments, bas-reliefs and paintings. These are material facsimiles, replicas of the original works in physical form by using 3D scanners, computers, printers and drills. As mentioned in the book, it is a rare case of digital technology being directly connected to the production of physically massive artefacts rather than virtual images on screens, which some equate to the disposition of new media in art. While it is true that new media covers virtual reality and simulations, it would be naïve to ignore interactivity, hypertextual and digital elements that form new media. Recognising what a technology is – really and physically – is a crucial, if a partial and qualified aspect of a media technology’s definition.

Interactivity has undergoing much redefinition, the concept has been described it as such: to declare a system interactive is to endorse it with a magic power. While old media offers passive consumption, new media offer interactivity. To me, interactivity is to change the way consumers receive their information, instead of a one-way communication, interactivity attempts a two-way communication and the consumer becomes a participant, the new media platform becomes active and everchanging in receiving a different response from every interaction. Take for example visual culture. Visual Culture has been credited with leading us to view the world through different lenses. The central issues faced by photography, film and cinema have been their realism and their nature of visual representation. In new media, the analogous nature of traditional visual culture has been replaced, or ‘upgraded’ by integrating elements of ‘digital’ representation. For example, in virtual reality, representation is displaced by simulation, and this is considered in the context of computer-generated animation, special effects and digital cinema. Linking back to interactivity, the integration of such complex computer manipulations helps us understand the relationships between human creativity, technological potential and the possibilities offered by markets.


Discussing medium in new media context

Medium is defined as the space that exists for a form of communication to happen (in the new media context). In the contemporary context, we tend to focus on digital medium rather than an analogous medium. We can all agree that the choice of medium affects the experience of both the creator and the participant. First of all, why is new media described as digital in the first place? What does digital actually mean in this context? Instinctively, we might perceive digital as a form of translating analogous data into binary information, but that may not be accurate. Instead, digital represents the translation of data, whether visual, sound or textual into numbers. In this manner, we can manipulate digital information by using algorithms, addition and subtraction to change the information to be received as screen displays. Analogue, on the other hand, refers to processes in which one set of physical properties can be stored in another ‘analogous’ physical form. Taking Factum – Arte for example, although the sculptures manifested in physical form, the artists have programmed it through complex technology to translate that visual information into numbers, and then using those numbers generate the possibility of converting the digital information into physical form through 3D printing.

Next, we will discuss interactions through text.

Network Effect by Jonathan Harris – as previously mentioned by Proj Dr. Dejan, the idea of obsessiveness is accentuated by works such as these – to stimulate the mind and using the Internet – a platform commonly used to feed obsessions and a source of information, where one can use to navigate his/her way to discover and realise their needs/desires. Network Effect acts as a counter-productive experiment, to make participants feel more weary and ‘less’ after spending time on the platform. Network Effect transcends beyond its media platform, the passive consumption diminishes as Harris integrates interactivity by manipulating user behaviour and feed their obsessions. By setting a limitation on the time spent on his website per day(using a calculate related to the average life span of users in each country), he denies users the freedom the Internet so provides, and sends a message that the Internet may work in more ways than one. He provides perspective on the Internet, originally as a tool of knowledge and empowerment, and later as a tool of obsession, creating the phenomenon of ‘Fear of Missing Out’ so that users feel the lack, the temptations and leave them wanting.

‘The end results of such interactions will be that the user constructs for him or herself an individualised text made up from all the segments of text which they call up through their navigation process. The larger the database the greater the chance that each user will experience a unique text.’

Harris employs hypertextual navigation to creating unique experiences and outcomes from interacting with his work. His large database, which consists of videos and images pulled from the Internet itself, is constantly updating, refreshing and growing. This, as mentioned above, will increase the chances that each user has an unique experience through Network Effect.

In retrospect, Jonathan Harris uses Network Effect to exemplify that Internet parallels the computer as a medium, in which it remains as technology in flux, where upgrade culture can continue to exist on the same medium even in the future.


is an interactive space consisting of numerous exhibitions where visitors can interact and immerse themselves in a ‘magical’ environment. High-tech interactive artworks in Future World are created in collaboration with teamLab, a renowned interdisciplinary art collective. It is here where we see a fusion and removal of boundaries between art and science. How appropriate it is to be held at the Art Science Museum!


It is defined as a reciprocal action or influence, involving two or more objections or persons.

As we previously learnt, interaction come can in many forms, namely:

Man-man interaction

Man-machine interaction

Machine-machine interaction

In future world, we are able to see all of these types of interaction happening. Man-man interaction is displayed through the observation and reaction to other people’s input onto the interactive screens, which I will discuss further. Man-machine interaction occurs when the visitors are required to sketch a drawing, move closer to the installation or follow an instruction to receive a reaction from the machine, in this case the installations. Machine-machine interaction is displayed when we move an object, for example in the City In a Garden – Giant Connecting Block Town, when a block is moved to a different location, the map recalibrates and reflects the current location of the block in the virtual map.

Real time change in location of objects, synchronized with the physical location of representation objects placed.

An interactive artwork should invite visitors/participants to think, take a step back and observe. It creates a personalized experience and opinion towards that particular artwork. We deviate from the typical need to critique and evaluate each artwork based on how ‘good’ it is, how it is able to accurately depict or evoke a certain emotion or get that certain reaction from its audience. Instead, we as the audience break down and digest the artwork empirically.

Certain level of understanding is needed before a viewer chooses to interact with the object. We as humans have the tendency to fear what we do not know and reject it. As much as we tend to give the audience the freedom to interact, we insert controls to guide the viewer, which does so much for us. These controls can help preserve our artwork, tailor user experience (albeit to a small degree), and most importantly ensure that the interaction becomes a positive experience. These ‘controls’ usually come in the form of instructions, or guides and hints that lead us to a certain action(that is usually unrestricted) that kick starts the entire experiential process. Without these controls, there will be little to no understanding from the viewer and thus restrict or compromise the experience. Let me provide you a few examples.

*170314_Sliding through the Fruit Field_nontelop

As seen in the Sliding through the Fruit Field installation, there is a set of staircase that leads people up the top of the slide, where they can slide down and observe the interaction beneath them. They ‘become a beam of life-giving sunlight, and as they glide down the slope, their energy is transferred to the fruit field, causing flowers and fruit to blossom and grow’. Even though the interactivity is the most important aspect of this installation, without the control(staircase), users may not be aware on how they should properly interact with the Fruit Field installation. Users may end up trying to climb up the slide via the interactive screen, which increases the chance for injuries etc, or end up not interacting with it at all because they don’t know how to.

At another installation, called the Sketch Aquarium, viewers see a set of tables and chairs, with a giant screen that displays the Aquarium. There is a set of instructions like this:

These set of instructions and description helps contextualize the artwork, and in my opinion, although done as an afterthought(so I would assume), it is a vital asset of the artwork.

As previously mentioned, the control acts as a guide and thereafter, the freedom of what to draw, where to touch etc. belongs to the participants.

I drew a gentlemen jellyfish and scanned it, adding it to the collection of fishes appearing in the Sketch Aquarium.

Video of my jellyfish

It was also natural for viewers to read and observe other viewers’ creations as well. One viewer had written on his fish ‘Free HK’, which reminded me that the content scanned and uploaded were unfiltered. This allowed the viewer to actively voice his opinion on the Aquarium, as part of the ‘freedom’ he was entitled in this interactivity. Could this be then considered a limitation of the artwork? After all, any viewer could exploit the use of the Aquarium.

SPACE – Crystal Universe

SPACE – Crystal Universe was strategically placed as the last artwork before the viewers finish up their tour of the FUTURE WORLD exhibition. The artwork consists of over 170,000 LED lights and a panel to walk through before reaching an open space that viewers can capture the entirety of SPACE. I believe that mirrors were placed on the sides, top and bottom of the lights to multiply the illusion of the countless LED lights that resembled stars. The concept of space and the unknown will forever be intriguing. The beauty of the galaxy and its vastness is reflected in pop culture, where movies are based in Outer Space. Although I did not linger in the art space, the interaction encouraged me to step back and think about the interactivity that it involved – the swiping on our mobile devices to change the light effects on the installation. The physical element of simply touching the artwork is removed, since we send our response through the internet. Will that, then, change the experience of the users when the element of touch, thus interactivity, is changed? The medium, in which we are able to interact, therefore affects greatly how we receive the experience.


Micro-Project 4: Disobedient Object
ALL by Rui Hong & Daryl

Assignment Brief:
Using Arduino and its sensors and actuators, we were tasked to hack an everyday household object and make it behave in an unexpected/disobedient way.

The object of our choice was a doorbell, or rather the concept of a doorbell (We didn’t want to destroy and pluck out our actual doorbell). We chose the doorbell as it is an object with an obvious purpose and a predictable outcome when interacted with. Placed beside a door, the object, being a button, is easily recognized and participants would immediately know how to use it. The call to action for the interaction is straightforward and participants will assume to know what is the outcome–only when you press the button, the bell will ring once-Ding Dong. Here, we have an opportunity to use that assumption to create a new and unexpected experience.

Hence, the disobedient doorbell was meant to play on that preconceived knowledge of the doorbell mechanism. So instead of a doorbell that activates when you press it, it will activate before the participants presses or even attempts to press the button.

There are 2 stages of this interaction:
1. The participant approaches or comes into close proximity to the door and the doorbell will unexpectedly ring. The doorbell will continue ringing as long as the participant remains in close distance. (We estimated the distance for the bell to sound to be around 15-30cm.) When participants walk away or retract their hand, the ringing will then stop.
2. With the bell already ringing, when the participant chooses to press the doorbell button (we anticipate that participants will assume pressing the button will stop the ringing), the ringing gets louder to an uncomfortable volume with some distortion. Holding onto the button will keep the ringing at the louder volume while releasing the button will bring the ringing back to its original volume. Again, when the participants choose to walk away or retract their hand, then the ringing will stop.

The disobedient doorbell is meant to make the participant feel alarmed, confused and panicky like the participant is not supposed to be there, encouraging the participants to leave the site of interaction.

Realisation & Delivery:
So we started on our building process.

Inspired by the class workshops on the photocell with LED light and piezo buzzer, we combined the codes and modified the circuitry. Instead of the LED lighting up when the threshold of the light reading is low enough, the buzzer will sound. We then coded the buzzer to sound like the average 2-tone doorbell.

Progress & Final:

In Situ Video here.


What are some reactions you observed from your participants when they interacted with the object?
Participant #1: When #1 approached the bell, she didn’t realise that the bell had already rung when she approached it. She proceeds to press the button, which made the ringing louder, but she remains confused from the interaction. In the feedback session, she mentions that she is intrigued by the bell but wasn’t aware of the bell ringing in advance.

Participant #2: Given that #2 has observed the interaction of #1 with the bell, her interaction with the disobedient bell was closer to what we intended. As she approached the bell, she waves her hand in front of her, trying to test the bells sensitivity. However, the bell only reacted when she tries to press the bell. On multiple tries to press the button, when the bell rang prior to her touching the button, she retracts her hand as if the bell were a buzzer, telling her not to press the bell. She gives up trying to press the button and leaves.

Participant #3: The last participant, having observed the 2 interactions before her, reacted and had the thought process we intended. As she approaches the bell, it sets off even before she lifts her hands to press it. She jumps from the unexpected alarm. She continues to try and press the button. Because the button broke, we simulated the effect of the louder ringing as she pretends to press the bell. In the feedback, she mentions how when the ringing starts, she assumes that the button will stop the continuous ringing, hence she attempts to press the button.

Challenges & Problem Solving:
What are the challenges involved and how did you overcome them? What problems still exist? How might you overcome them eventually?

[Daryl: For the first few classes on Arduino, we were taught to use the arduino board and breadboard, learning how to use specific inputs such as the piezo buzzer, LDR sensor, LED and switch amongst other things. Given our inexperience, we took a while to figure out how the circuits would work, and through errors on writing the sketches we understood coding better.

The first challenge we encountered was starting on the coding. A blank screen can be quite intimidating and we did not know where or how to start. We then decided to work off existing codes we practiced in class. We started with the codes from the photocell workshop then incorporated the codes from the piezo buzzer workshop. We also used the IF & ELSE code from the LED workshop. After a few tries, we manage to get the piezo buzzer to sound.

The second challenges was finding the right sensitivity for the bell. We were not sure how close we wanted the participant to be. On multiple occasions, the bell became unpredictable and started sounding off whenever or did not sound at all to any interaction. We figured it was the angle of the photocell which affected its sensitivity.

Lastly, we had some difficulty fitting everything into a compact object and creating a button to extend from the breadboard to the cover of the case we built. We took a while to get the correct measurements and finish up the case for the doorbell. (After the in-class test run, we realise that the material of the object can also affect the way people interact with it and how they approach the object. We will consider the effects of materials for the next project.)]


What are some reactions you observed from your participants when they interacted with the object?

Participant #1: Participant 1, being the real guinea pig in this situation, approached the doorbell with confidence to test out the doorbell. It rang on queue and as there is only 1 button on the foamboard (which was intentional as to lead the participant to try it out on instinct), she pressed it and it gave a secondary beep. She didn’t seem surprised by the louder secondary beep. As we are used to having a ‘click feedback’ when we press a button, the foam button made it hard to feel the ‘click’ and that prompted her to press harder onto the button. What happens afterwards can be seen in the button. Besides the click feedback she was looking for, I felt like she may have expected a different result (such as a louder beep or a different sound) from subsequent presses and that may have prompted her to try again.

Participant #2: Participant 2, having observed participant 1 gained some insight on how the button may work. Approaching the doorbell, she tested out the sensitivity of the photocell by waving her hands in front of it. After that, she attempted to press the doorbell but was prompted by the initial beep of the doorbell to refrain from doing so. She ended up not pressing the doorbell, which I felt may have caused her to be uncomfortable and leave the interaction space (which was one of the intended outcomes).

Participant #3: Our last participant, having observed two interactions, had a similar thought process as us. She startled at the initial beep as she approached the doorbell. Thinking that the doorbell might stop ringing as soon as she presses the button, she is ‘pleasantly’ surprised at how it didn’t stop ringing, but got even louder. The doorbell then obediently invites the participant to leave with the annoying beeping.

What are the challenges involved and how did you overcome them? What problems still exist? How might you overcome them eventually?

For the first few classes on Arduino, we were taught to use the arduino board and breadboard, learning how to use specific inputs such as the piezo buzzer, LDR sensor, LED and switch amongst other things. Given my inexperience, I took awhile to understand how it worked and had to refer back to slides more than just a couple of times. We bumped into a few incompatible sketches which helped us understanding the coding process better.

We started from scratch as we didn’t want to confuse ourselves. The way we revised the arduino coding was to wire the circuit according to the slides and then stare at it until we understood how and why the circuit works. We then read the code and change certain values in the sketches to test out the coding to give ourselves a better understanding. We knew what components we wanted to use, the problem was combining the existing codes to form the correct sketch that would work. We stuck to what we learnt from the workshops, coupled with a few references from existing codes from the google search bar.

The second issue we faced was the ever-changing sensitivity of the photoresistor. Due to the different environments we were in when we worked on the arduino board, we had to tweak the sensitivity according to our classroom to make it workable. This was one we were able to work out easily as we had had a few goes at changing the sensitivity before going to class, so it didn’t seem like much of a hassle.

The third issue was the design of the board; the measurements had to be exact so that the photoresistor could stick out just enough for it appear on the foamboard we made. We took a few tries (shaving down the board) before the photoresistor would stay obediently in place. In hindsight, we could have used crocodile clips and other materials to extend the flexibility of our foamboard. We had decided to keep the design of the foam board as not to confuse our participants. In our test-runs, we realised that we have always tested it while the foam board lies flat on the table. We should have tested it in an upright position for more accurate results.

Area of improvements:

  1. Test runs can include more situations, different angles of testing to ensure an accurate experiment.
  2. Prototype board can be more sturdy and should not obstruct our participants from trying out the doorbell as they are afraid of damaging it.

Thank you for reading!


1 Join = 1 Flick

The objective of the work is to allow the crowd to participate in my conditioning. An example of conditioning is training the test subject to react to certain triggers, in this case my group has conditioned me to react to a new ‘joined’ notification by anticipating a flick on my forehead.

We uploaded a post on Instagram to preempt the audience of our project but we did not reveal the purpose of it. Then, we started an Instagram live video that can be accessed by my followers. We started off the project by using tickling as an action and using likes as a trigger. As the participants were either my friends or acquaintances, they enjoyed the little exercise quite a bit by leaving comments such as ‘I spammed likes, tickle him harder’ and so on. They did not take it seriously as they were able to feel satisfied with low consequences as ‘flicking’ was not inherently dangerous. After a while, I stopped reacting to the tickles as I was used to them and the participants were able to spam likes on a live story, making the reaction less responsive.

We decided to create a better conditioning by changing it to flicking my forehead as an action and joining/leaving a comment on my live chat as a trigger. Whenever someone comes to watch the live video, a notification will appear and state ”XXX joined”. When that happens, either Li Xuan or Han Yun will give me a flick on my forehead. After awhile, I become accustomed to the feeling of getting flicked whenever a new person joined, and I had some anticipatory reaction even when the two of them did not flick me. At that point of time, I still flinched whenever new somebody joined as I was conditioned.

The creators of the project were both the crowd and the test subject (me). Without the participants, the work will not achieve the intended outcome as I will not get flicked and be conditioned. It was different than the classic conditioning done by Ivan Pavlov – refer to , as my project involved a crowd that was essential to making the conditioning work. Unlike his experiment having a constant, mine did not have one as my participants were a variable. They were able to choose whenever and how many times they want to appear.

How are we so sure that the participants (my friends) would join the live chat and watch me get flicked? We based it off the schadenfreude experience. Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another. It is one of four related emotions or concepts. Hence, we were sure that my friends would want to see me get flicked. Indeed, there were some who left the room and rejoined just to see me get flicked more than once.

We had to switch up the project as we did not get the intended response whilst using 3 phones as Li Xuan and Han Yun’s friends did not know me and did not care to inflict pain on me. Additionally, I learnt that having a controlled group of participants were important as the context of the audience would affect the intended outcome of the work.